The Big Three: Who’s got the Power?

Regardless of how often it crosses our mind, we rely utilities everyday to sustain us.  Whether it is gas or electricity, it is often easy to forget how much you use something until something goes wrong.

The UK energy market is dominated by six companies who supply gas and electricity to over 50 million UK homes, commonly known as the Big Six Energy Suppliers.  We examined the Twitter customer care channels of the top three companies in the UK to see how customer experience differed across the companies.




Despite being the largest company of the three (supplying 20 million customers in the UK), British Gas were in second place when it came to customer Twitter conversations about the brand.  SSE sit comfortably at the top, as customers express gratitude for the great online customer experience, including many who mention that individuals within the customer care team deserve a pay rise for their positive interactions and demeanour.

Npower are lagging behind with an Adorescore of -13, indicating that customers are dissatisfied with the brand.  Issues include poor response times and negative interactions with complaints team.


Joy Index


The Joy Index assesses levels of joy or amusement which is expressed toward a brand.

The topics which are driving the most joy to SSE relate to the company successfully helping customers, customers thanking them, and SSE corresponding with customers via email.  Opportunities which British Gas could take advantage of to surpass SSE’s joy levels include their free smart light kit offer and the use of smart meters.  These topics are dominated by ecstasy and joy, and promotion of these products could provide British Gas with an edge over SSE.

Npower tends much more toward grief than the other two companies.  Large amounts of this grief are driven by customers complaining about npower blocking them from their Facebook page, and people feeling that npower do not care about their customers.


Trust Index


The Trust Index highlights the levels of trust that consumers have (or indeed don’t have) in a brand.

Topics which are driving the most trust to SSE are customers expressing thanks and appreciation to the customer care team and discussions around customers receiving emails from the company.  In order to further increase their lead, SSE should focus on posts surrounding being able to help, and using informal language such as ‘cheers’, as posts which included these concepts were dominated by high levels of trust.

Lack of trust on the part of npower customers stems from complaints about the service that npower provides, with customers feeling that they are not valued, labelling npower workers as cowboys.  Key threats which need to be addressed before they escalate include customers being blocked from posting on the npower Facebook page, and issues surrounding the actions and attitudes of the complaints team.


Interest Index


Amazement is associated with feelings of surprise or ‘wow’ felt toward a brand, while vigilance is more closely related to hype and anticipation related to a company.

All three of the companies tend toward vigilance on this scale.  British Gas comes out on top, with high levels of vigilance coming through from mentions of their smart meters, and their smart light kit promotion.  New customers provide an excellent opportunity for British Gas to extend this lead, with mentions of this topic being dominated by vigilance.


A key opportunity for SSE to get ahead on the vigilance side would be an emphasis on their smart meter and discussions around opening new accounts, as these topics drive high levels of vigilance in mentions of the company.


Comfort Index


On this index, rage is associated with feelings of discomfort, which the consumer is empowered to take action against.  Terror related to feelings of insignificance and powerlessness to control the discomfort felt.  As such, brands should aim to be in the centre of this scale.

British Gas are leading the way here, with the least rage being expressed toward the brand on Twitter.  Npower are clearly struggling, and at risk of sliding further toward rage if they do not address pressing threats such as blocking customers on Facebook, and accusations that they have damaged the credit scores of customers.

Although the indexes show a tie between SSE and British Gas, SSE win the title of Happiest Customers, with a higher Adorescore.  Npower customers repeatedly mention the poor treatment that they receive from an unhelpful complaints team, reducing the brand’s overall image.  If customer service is done well, it can elicit positive emotions, including admiration and ecstasy, which leads to an improved customer view of the brand.

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